The fragile peace existing between border communities in Ini Local Government Area and neighbouring Abia State Communities has once again been stretched beyond limit.
This time around, the victims are indigenes of Ibono Okporo in Nkari clan of Ini who have been under series of attacks by Usaka Ukwu in Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State “who spray the people of Nkari bullets like powder” over land and boundary disputes.
Supervisory Councillor for Political, Chieftaincy and Legislative Affairs for Ini Local Government Government Area, Honourable Benjamin Christopher Akpan while narrating the ordeal of his constituents said Nkari has done everything to live peacefully with their neighbours but Ikwuano prefers launching attacks on them at intervals.
“As we speak, members of my Community can neither go to the farm or crossover to other parts of Ini because of the insecurity here. The attackers always lay ambush and shoot at sight anyone whether walking or going on a motorcycle.
“You know Nkari only has one access road, and it has been infiltrated by our warring neighbours who have vowed to wipe out Nkari so that they can take the land,” Honourable Akpan cried.
According to him, the rampant attacks and invasion of the warriors from Ikwuano on the community necessitated a peace talks which was initiated by the Army Commander of the Task Force stationed at the boundary between Ikwuano and Obot Akara Local Government Areas, also overseeing security around neighbouring Communities.
He said the meeting, though inconclusive was well attended by relevant Government representatives and security operatives from both States including the Chief Security Officer to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and the Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Abia State.
Honourable Akpan noted that when the matter not fully settled, the meeting was rescheduled. He said the army commander warned all parties to stay clear of the controversial land till the matter is settled but they (Ikwuano) violated the order and, entered the farm and brought fight to the doorsteps of Nkari but they refused to retaliate.
“The next day that was fixed for the talks could not hold due to the death of a Commissioner in Abia State who reportedly died of Covid-19. We also agreed to meet again on a new date. Shockingly, days before the meeting, they came back to attack our community, shooting at anyone they saw. Several members of my Community were shot and are battling to survive the bullet injuries,” the community leader narrated.
He commended the Chairman of Ini Local Government Area, Honourable Israel Idaisin for his role in facilitating the peace meetings and ensure that the people of Ibono Okporo in particular and Nkari as a are protected.
According to him, “The Chairman of Ini Local Government Area, Honourable Israel Idaisin has shown quality leadership in the face of all this. He mobilized and facilitated our attendance at the scheduled meetings, and advocated strongly for our safety. He is always monitoring development in the matter, with a view to bringing in relevant stakeholders to a round table.”
The Community leader acknowledged the critical role of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO for Ini Local Government Area, which he noted has shown commitment to the protection of Nkari during the trying period.
He appealed to Akwa Ibom State Government to come to their rescue and take boundary issues seriously to avoid unnecessary lost of lives.
On his part, the Councillor representing Nkari in Ini Legislative Council, Honourable Okon Utin lamented that such dispute was avoidable as the both Communities are neighbours who have had long standing ties, which he said must not be destroyed by this generation.
He recalled similar border and land related crisis in Ini Local Government Area.
“Remember that many years ago, they did this same thing to Itu Mbonuso and got away with four villages originally belonging to the present day Akwa Ibom State to Bende Nobody is taking it seriously. Arochukwu also tried in Iwerre but failed. Even Abam till date is trying regularly to cede part of the land of the same Itu Mbonuso to Ohafia. Today, Ikwuano is encouraged to come claim lands belonging to Nkari and Mbiafun in Ini Local Government Area. If our Government continues to keep quiet, one day they will wake up to hear that Ini Local Government Area now remains one village,” Honourable Utin opined.
He reminded all that if a border Community like Ini is allowed to be porous, then the entire State is not safe.
The representative appealed to the Federal Government to immediately send the National Boundary Commission to come for demarcation to avert impending boundary clashes the will spill much blood.
He appealed to the Akwa Ibom State Government to come to their rescue, and do everything to protect the people from further attacks, noting that Nkari should not only be remembered during election but cannot be protected and supported to maximize its agrarian potentials like other parts of Ini Local Government Area and Akwa Ibom State as a whole.